February 28, 2023
Greetings Community Advocates!
Welcome back to our Legislative Updates on this last day of February.
GENERAL UPDATE FROM AUGUSTA:
This week, the Maine Legislature is fully back to work after taking a partial break last week during school break. There were no House or Senate sessions last week; however, a few committees, including the Appropriations and Financial Affairs (AFA) Committee, met.
On February 14, Governor Mills delivered her State of the Budget in front of the Legislature and vowed to invest more in housing, better health care, child care, combating the drug overdose epidemic, and our community college system.
Hearings on the governor’s budget plan continue before various committees with jurisdiction over a variety of policy areas. While Governor Mills still has influence on her proposed budget, the Legislature will get to decide how to move the spending plan forward.
United Way of Southern Maine is supporting some of the initiatives in Governor Mills’ proposed budget:
- $15 million to continue providing up to two years of free community college
- $10 million to improve higher education affordability
- $58 million to fully fund universal free meals for students in public schools and for publicly funded students in approved private school
- $15 million to address Maine’s child welfare system
- $4 million to continue providing student loan repayment assistance
- $30 million to building workforce housing
- $100,000 to provide ongoing funding to support a coalition of 50 organizations providing free volunteer tax assistance (CA$H MAINE)
This week, the AFA continues hearings on the pieces of the biennial budget. The committees that have been already come through the Appropriations committee (like HHS) are having their work sessions and will be starting to vote on line items for their reports and then send back them to the AFA.
This month, the Maine Legislature also passed LD 206—the FY2022-2023 supplemental budget that ends on June 30, 2023. The bill has been signed into law by Governor Mills.
February 2023 was recognized as 211 Month by Maine Legislature with bipartisan support. The Joint Resolution recognizing 211 Month in Maine was cosponsored by Sen. Trey Stewart (R-Aroostook) and Rep. Lori Gramlich (D-Old Orchard Beach).
Finding help for complex needs like shelter, substance use, mental health, or food access can be hard for many Mainers. Fortunately, there is a Maine-based resource that can help. Click to read the full announcement.
LEGISLATION CONNECTED TO THRIVE2027 GOALS 1, 2, & 3:
UWSM supports public policies that advance Thrive2027, a 10-year initiative to achieve measurable progress in the areas of education, financial stability, and health.
We are currently tracking the following bills in the Maine State Legislature:
- LD 3 –An Act to Establish the Winter Energy Relief Payment Program to Aid Residents with High Heating Costs and to Finalize the COVID Pandemic Relief Payment Program
- LD 18 – An Act to Provide Ongoing Funding for up to 2 Years of Community College for Certain Maine Students
- LD 67 – An Act to Increase the Number of Educational Professionals by Accepting Out-of-state Certification
- LD 258 – An Act Making Unified Appropriations and Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government, General Fund and Other Funds, and Changing Certain Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2023, June 30, 2024 and June 30, 2025
- LD 2 – An Act to Address Maine’s Housing Crisis
- LD 190 – An Act to Develop a Long-term Plan to Address Mental Health Needs in Rural Maine
- LD 250 – An Act to Improve Housing by Increasing Housing Options
For more information on the each bill, its impact and status, please check out our Legislative Priorities Tracking Chart.
UPDATES FROM UWSM:
GET YOUR TAXES PREPARED FOR FREE WITH CA$H GREATER PORTLAND
CA$H Greater Portland is launching its 2023 free tax preparation service with four convenient options for filing your taxes, including assistance from IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers. If your household earned $60,000 or less in 2022, you may qualify for free tax prep. Learn more and make an appointment at uwsme.org/taxseason/.
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If you would like to know more about how you can advocate for a thriving community, please contact us at email@example.com. Thank you for raising your hand and offering your support as a volunteer, donor, and advocate. Together we are creating a Southern Maine where everyone can thrive.
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